Technical Textile

Asahi Kasei celebrates centennial – Reimagining how values for sustainability, satisfaction and society influence future mobility

Asahi Kasei, a diversified Japanese multina-tional company, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its establishment on May 25, 1922. In unison, the organization announces the release of a next generation concept car, AKXY2™ (pronounced “ax-ee”), that reimagines how values for sustainability, satisfac-tion and society will influence the needs of future mobility on the road to automation and electrification in a changing society. The concept car is equipped with a sprawling as-sortment of value-adding technologies that exemplify how Asahi Kasei’s 100 years of collective innovation across the Material industry is contributing to present and future mobility.

“Aside from advancements in legislation, evolving demands from customers are causing OEMs to tear down existing processes in favor of safer, more comfortable and more sustainable vehicles, answering the needs of diverse end users” comments Heiko Rother, General Manager of Automotive Business Development at Asahi Kasei Europe. “We need to act fast. Our recent survey from Novem-ber 2021 shows that 50% of car users in the four major automotive markets – the USA, Germany, Japan and China – will choose a different brand to the one they currently own. The materials used in the car are a key enabler for multiple differentiating factors and user experience beyond drivetrain or driving performance – whether visible or not”

The AKXY2 concept car demonstrates the cross-divisional expertise of Asahi Kasei throughout the entire value chain, from raw materials and production technologies to the usage of recycled and recyclable materials, while addressing the changing regulations and evolving needs of car users. Virtually everything that can been seen, touched or felt in the vehicle is either manufactured or co-developed by Asahi Kasei. The car features materials and solutions that touch the senses, improve safety and ensure the highest functionality while reducing its environmental impact. The concept of the vehicle is driven by a theme of “3 S’s”: Sustainability, Satisfaction and Society.

AKXY2 is more sustainable

From textiles to elastomers, Asahi Kasei materials that can contribute to a lower carbon footprint are integrated into the vehicle. The interior surfaces are covered by Dinamica®, a premium microfiber suede partially made of recycled polyester, and Sage Automotive Interiors can also provide other sus-tainable fabrics utilizing raw materials that range from recycled PET, bio-based PET, natural blends, and ocean waste. The vehicle seats are cushioned by Cubit™, a 3D mesh material made of PET and partially bio-based PTT. The S-SBR tires, made from bio-based butadiene, improve fuel and energy efficiency from their low rolling resistance while reducing the microplastics generation of tires.

AKXY2 is driving satisfaction

The needs of car occupants are evolving. One of AKXY2’s major themes revolves around “the senses” from the smell of the cabin and the touch of the textiles to the sound-proof atmosphere and futuristic looks. To address evolving safety needs beyond crashes, elements from Asahi Kasei’s

Healthy Car Portfolio are implemented to protect the automotive interior from the spread of patho-gens via antimicrobial fabrics. A CO₂ sensor can monitor CO₂ levels in the cabin to maintain optimal air quality while reducing energy usage and protecting the cabin from children or pets left behind. In addition, semi-transparent and backlit fabrics as well as plastic optical fibers allow for customized ambient lighting inside the vehicle, while our sustainable textiles and foams equip seats with a new level of comfort.

AKXY2 is for society

One of the core concepts of AKXY2 considers the role cars will play in our changing society. The car will become more than just a means of transportation – it will be a place to socialize with friends and family, much like the patio of a home. We explored how the automobile can be a platform of inspira-tion for our future society.

Through full collaboration with European and American sites of Group company Sage Automotive Interiors, an abundant line-up of automotive interior fabric is showcased, enabling higher customiza-tion of the interior compared to the first AKXY™. As for utilization of the interior space, concepts for potential synergy with the Homes sector of Asahi Kasei are proposed to enhance collaboration with customers and automotive users. The functions of the door and canopy open/close touch solutions and the heated seats are achieved in collaboration with UltraSense Systems, Inc., a company in which Asahi Kasei Corporate Venture Capital has invested, as well as other companies.

Asahi Kasei has been Creating for Tomorrow over the past 100 years, and both internal and external collaboration has been a key element of growth. “One of Asahi Kasei’s greatest strengths is without question the ability to draw from our diverse product portfolio across multiple group companies and collaborate with outside start-ups to create new concepts, such as smart fabrics,” says Mike Franchy, Director of North American Mobility at Asahi Kasei America. “AKXY2 showcases our expertise as a trusted partner to OEMs and Tier-1s for both interior and exterior components and technology. It’s hard to believe that this all started 100 years ago with basic textiles from synthetic cellulose, like Rayon. We’ve come a long way since then, and I’m looking forward to seeing these contributions continue to shape the automotive industry.”

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